Guns found in your car? Know the applicable New York law

While Americans may have the right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms, that does not mean that right may be exercised outside the bounds of a complex web of both federal and state regulations, rules, and criminal statutes.

If you own a firearm, unless you keep your gun hidden away and unused, it is likely that at some point it will end up in a motor vehicle. If you are unfortunate enough to get pulled over when transporting your gun and it is found by the police officer, you could be accused of running afoul of New York law. For anyone who owns a gun or knows someone who does, a basic understanding of New York law when it comes to guns in a car can be beneficial.

Many restrictions placed on transporting firearms, particularly handguns

The most general firearms rule applicable to vehicle transport in New York State is that it is illegal to transport any type of gun in a car if the gun is loaded unless you possess a valid New York Permit to Carry.

It is also illegal for anyone without a valid New York Permit to Carry to transport a handgun, whether loaded or unloaded. There is a limited exception to the law for those who are only passing through the state to and from somewhere where they can validly posses and transport a handgun and the handgun is stored in the trunk and unloaded, or in vehicles without a trunk, is unloaded and stored in a locked container that is not the glove compartment or console.

New York also completely prohibits some types of firearms and firearm components. For example, magazines that are capable of accepting more than ten rounds of ammunition are illegal in New York.

Of course, if you are someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm in any context, like a convicted felon, it is against the law for you to transport a firearm in a vehicle under any circumstances.

If you've been accused of a gun crime, contact a New York criminal defense attorney

In New York, if there is one illegal gun in a vehicle, all occupants of the passenger compartment can be considered to be in possession of it and may be charged with a gun crime. It does not matter who owns the vehicle, or who owns the gun.

That being said, vehicle searches that turn up an illegal gun are often conducted in violation of the suspect's rights. If your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures was violated and an illegal gun was discovered as a result, you may be able to get the evidence suppressed.

Given the strict gun laws of New York State, it is not difficult to wind up with a weapons charge potentially punishable by years in prison even if you meant no harm. If you've been accused of a gun crime, you may have legal options, and you need to exercise your rights in order to protect your future; talk to a New York criminal defense attorney today.